My First Job
Everyone remembers their first job.
It’s a definitive time in your life: it’s a step up from childhood, and a preview of adulthood. It’s a proud moment, when you are old enough to earn your own money. First job experiences are also formative. Not only do they teach you the value of hard work and money — they also shape your understanding of the world. They increase your self-confidence and self-sufficiency. And a good first job will get you started on the path to future success.
My first job was a doughnut finisher at my local Dunkin Donuts in Andrew Square — a job that was very reflective of my Boston roots. Although the work wasn’t glamorous, it was definitely a lot of hard work and taught me a lot. While I wouldn’t call myself a baker, I surprised myself with my new skills — something I wouldn’t have learned if I hadn’t taken this job!
My days would start early in the morning, way before our store opened — and you know how early Dunkin Donuts opens! My shift would consist of getting the doughnuts ready for sale, accept shipments, and prepare the doughnuts with a variety of fillings, icings, and decorations. The busiest time would obviously be in the morning, when doughnuts would fly off the shelves. Sampling the different doughnuts was a fun part of the day, especially the new flavors.
When I go to Dunkin Donuts now, I often think back to the hours I spent there as a teenager. Dunkin Donuts has changed a lot since I worked there in the early 1980s. But I know my first job experience is similar to other young people’s experiences today. Everyone’s career needs to start somewhere, and that’s where I got my start.
In many ways, my first job helped shape me into who I am today — it taught me the value of hard work, the importance of being dedicated and committed to getting the job done, and the proud feeling you get when you earn your own money. It also shaped my understanding of how crucial part-time jobs are for a young person’s growth and development.
That’s why, as Mayor, I am so supportive of summer jobs and other part-time jobs for our City’s young people. These are positive experiences that every young person should have, especially as they move through their teenage years and into adulthood. For young people who live in low-income areas or have a lack of support in their lives, a good part-time job can have a great impact on their lives and even make a difference, by increasing their confidence and putting them on the track to success.
So as a City, we’re committed to growing these kinds of jobs and connecting our young people to these opportunities. We’re working with employers to recruit more young people. Having job experience will make them excited for their future, and for finding and achieving their dream job someday. It’s how we support our young residents, giving them a chance, and help prepare them — and our City’s future workforce — for success.
In the spirit of celebrating first jobs, below are a few first job stories from some of my senior staff at City Hall, explaining the impact of their first jobs:
David Sweeney, Chief Financial Officer
My first job started at age 6, as an independent personal paperboy. My parents had informed me I would be performing this job. This “opportunity” was provided to me by my parents, and the route consisted of delivering a newspaper to an elderly couple at the top of my street, Bea and Marie. I delivered them their newspapers and they sat and entertained me for about 30 minutes on my walk to school every morning. Essentially, Bea and Marie paid me $2 a week for the responsibility of babysitting me before school because my parents had to leave for work so early in the morning. I did the job for four years, and spent my $2 paycheck on candy, ice cream, and french fries at King’s Corner Variety.
My advice: If you have the luxury, find something that excites you and doesn’t feel like work. Also, take advantage of the on the job training you’re receiving. Soliciting customers for a sale, shoveling mulch, or operating the cash register might not seem that glamorous, but you can build on those skills over time. Everyone has to start somewhere — even if you don’t get to be a 6 year-old paperboy.
Joyce Linehan, Chief of Policy
I was 14 when I was hired as a recreation director. The campground I spent my summers at had a lack of organized activities, so I convinced the owner to hire me to help plan things like movie nights, games and music events. I worked there for three summers. Looking back, this was my first entrepreneurial venture — I liked the creativity involved, and the flexibility. For other people looking for their first jobs, this is my advice: There is opportunity everywhere — sometimes when you least expect it. Try to see the world through other people’s eyes, and remember that people have a lot to offer.
Jerome Smith, Chief of Civic Engagement
At 16, I was hired to be a crew member at McDonald’s. I was the oldest of five, and having a job meant independence, and helping my family. I applied for the job after seeing a job in Waterbury Republican — without asking for permission in advance. I remember my first day was chaos: I was assigned to the fry station and once 10:30 AM hit they would be serving both breakfast and lunch at the same time. My first manager’s name was Gary, and he became a good friend, inviting me over for dinner and talking with me about my future. He tried to convince me to join the McDonald’s management program, but instead I left to go to college.
Here’s what I learned about first jobs: It is your first job, not your last. Get as many skills as you can and build a strong foundation. Even if the sky is falling, don’t get discouraged. Take advantage of all of the experiences, good and bad, they’ll all make you better at your next job.
Dan Koh, Chief of Staff
Without my first job, I wouldn’t be where I am now. At 13, I was hired to be a sting operator for the anti-smoking initiative at the local health community center. I rode in an unmarked car from location to location and tried to purchase cigarettes underage. I didn’t travel with an ID and wasn’t allowed to lie. During my first job, I learned that it’s important to be on time, that public servants help people, and that laws are important. Without the laws we have in place and the people enforcing them, a lot of 13-year-olds would be smoking — it was an eye-opening experience that time after time people sold me the cigarettes that summer.
During your first job, develop skills, make connections, and let yourself be impressed by folks. Even if it’s not suited for you it can be a great experience.
Patrick Brophy, Chief of Operations
My first job was at 14, when I was hired as a deckhand at Boston Harbor Cruises. My parents encouraged me to get the job, and I remember going out to the Harbor and filling out my application. Every day, I took a bus or a train to work — the 32 or the 50 to the Orange Line. I remember on my first day of work, I was completely confused and overwhelmed. I worked there for four years, and learned how to drive to a boat, and Boston’s history. But the most important things I learned were the importance of timeliness and having a purposeful schedule, and how vital the maritime industry is to Boston.
Employers prefer graduates with work experience. There are many benefits to undertaking a placement or internship whilst at university:
- Gain knowledge: Your academic studies can be enriched by the new perspectives, experience and commercial awareness that you gain while you are working in an industry environment
- Develop key skills: A work placement provides the opportunity for you to develop key employability skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, communication and time management that graduate recruiters look for.
- Explore different career options: A work placement will let you 'try before you buy' and often give you a taste of several different roles available within a company to give you new ideas about career options.
- Secure a graduate job: A work placement will give you a competitive edge when it comes to applying for graduate jobs. Employers prefer graduates who have experience and it isn't unheard of for an employer to offer a graduate role to students who have already completed a placement or internship with them.
- Go global: As a student at Middlesex, you can undertake work experience anywhere in Mauritius – or even abroad through the Aiesec
- Get paid while you study: Many placements can be well paid, an excellent way to fund the cost of your studies
Work experience can help demonstrate to employers that you are ready for the world of work, and will provide you with a portfolio of transferable skills, an understanding and appreciation of the commercial world and potentially
inspire your future career direction. Employers are increasingly looking for students who are able to combine excellent academic achievement with practical hands-on experience.
Good work experience should:
— Teach you new skills
— Highlight which skills you need
— Let you explore a career idea
— Connect you to people you could ask for help/advice
— Illuminate how things work in that sector
— Demonstrate your interest in that kind of work
— Show evidence of your motivation for that kind of work
— Provide you with a contact you could ask for a reference
The term work experience is very broad and can relate to any of the following experience:
An internship is a period of work experience, offered by an organisation, usually lasting for a fixed, limited amount of time. Internships are usually undertaken by students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills and experience in a particular field.
Professional practice and training
Maybe you want to work in a profession such as law. Work-based learning for these is a compulsory part of the programmes or can be undertaken after academic study; this prepares trainee professionals with relevant, realistic and quality learning opportunities. Students are required to undertake and demonstrate their competence for practice in a number of different field settings or placements.
In addition to doing work experience that benefits your CV, you could also help others and give something back to the community by volunteering. Building on the success of previous community engagements such as Le Flamboyant Old People’s Home, St Luc – reading circles and ‘Give a Tin’, students have encountered unique and rewarding experiences that have grounded their understanding of themselves, others and how the world works outside campus.
The personal and professional benefits of volunteering include:
Skill development - Volunteering your skills helps you develop new skills and experiences.
Career exploration - volunteering will introduce you to new professional paths, learn more about a particular role or sector , workplace, office culture, or cause.
Personal growth - Lifelong learning includes hands-on experiences as a volunteer which can teach you about issues ranging from adult literacy to public health to animal welfare.
Socialising- In addition to professional networking, volunteering can be a fun and meaningful way to make new friends.
Creating an impact - Volunteering offers a way to have a real and lasting impact on the community.
If you would like more information or to take part in Volunteering, please contact Nancy Veerayen - Lecturer - Learning and Development
Paid work undertaken during term-time or vacations and typically undertaken to earn money to support studying.
Student Council/ Student Societies/ Student Voice Leaders / Student Ambassadors
Getting actively involved in a student society provides useful experience to develop a range of valuable employability skills: the management of people, funds and equipment demanded of Society officers can provide real learning opportunities
Sport at university can provide more than just regular exercise and a break from academic work. It can help nurture key skills that employers look for, especially for those involved in the executive teams or sports committees.